Peggy Noonan – and I – weigh in on Lugar race


Hey, does the great Peggy Noonan read by chance?

Last week, I weighed in on Indiana’s heated Republican¬† primary race between veteran Senator Richard Lugar and the state’s Republican Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and this week, Noonan did the same.

Noonan analyzed the race in her (as always) gorgeous prose, and with a depth of political knowledge that only a many-decades-savvy veteran speechwriter, politico and columnist could possess. While I would not claim to have highlighted my points as artfully or against such a rich backdrop of experience as Ronald Reagan’s star speechwriter, Noonan and I did zero in on several of the same themes: Lugar’s experience in contrast to that of Mourdock, and Lugar’s real record of achievement in the crucial area of national security.

Morever, we made similar points about Lugar’s effectiveness at working with others to execute sound policy that might not have always grabbed headlines but laid the foundation for a safer, more responsible future. Noonan wrote, “He’s fought many fights to keep bad policy from being imposed. (Unfortunately, there’s never a memorial to the bad bill that didn’t happen.) He’s waded into serious policy issues, such as disarmament, that get little credit but are crucial.” And I wrote, “Lugar co-authored the Nunn-Lugar program, which dismantled more than 7,500 nuclear warheads, more than 1,400 nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, 155 bombers, and 32 nuclear submarines in the former Soviet Union during the years immediately following its collapse. The program also upgraded security at 24 strategic sites. (This work was incredibly far-sighted and absolutely crucial given the possibility that enemies of Israel and the U.S. could have gotten a hold of this stuff). To the extent that the Russians have not already sold nuclear weapons and WMD to Islamic terrorists (fingers crossed), we may very well have to thank Dick Lugar for reaching across the aisle to do this absolutely vital work.”

If I do say so myself (and to the eminent Ms. Noonan), our points are well taken. For all the justified concern about over-spending, runaway bureaucracy, and Washington fat cats, there are a few politicians there who have quietly and diligently accomplished important things. In the case of Lugar, because one can’t prove a negative, it is tricky to explain that without his foresight and work on issues such as buying up nuclear weapons and WMD that were sitting around the former Soviet Union, it is likely that some of that stuff might have wound up in the hands of Islamist terrorists.

One point Noonan made that I did not, however, is that, to the extent that tea party activists have raised awareness about runaway spending and lack of foresight by Dems and Repubs alike, this close race will serve to reinforce in Lugar, if the voters of Indiana send him back to Washington, the imperative to return to conservative principles (cut over-spending that, while it might feel good and please some of the people, is borrowing unfairly against our children’s future).

Cutting out that practice should be a manageable imperative for the already sober-minded Lugar.

As I put it, I’m no Hoosier, but I’ll be rooting for him May 8. Or as Noonan put it, “They should save the old guy. He has value.”

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